WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Everyone has their own traditions when it comes to the Fourth of July.

“We think of barbeques, the lake, family, fireworks, those are parts of our lives we would not have,” Francis Grice Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution chapter regent Sonja Gandy said.

But for families of those who served, it can take on a much deeper meaning.

“Those parents, whether their men or women, when they have to be deployed and leave their families, it’s like their families lose that part of their life, and they lose that part,” Ruth James said. “It’s the part that they sacrifice it, they sacrifice it for us.”

Ruth James’ husband, and Martie’s father served in Vietnam.

“My daughter, who graduated kindergarten and started first grade while her daddy was gone,” Ruth said.

“I did not understand the depth and complexity of what he was doing, but I understood it was important and I understood why he was doing it,” Martie James said.

Two tours without dad at home wasn’t easy on the James family.

“Daddy wrote each one of them a letter every day, and they proudly took their letters to the mailbox and that was a wonderful day, getting those letters,” Ruth said.

Which makes Independence Day extra special.

“We celebrate our patriots and we celebrate our families,” Ruth said.

Celebrating patriots and families, like Sonja Gandy’s father, who survived a frightening experience in Vietnam on the Third of July.

“When his helicopter was shot down, fortunately, there were troops on the ground and they came out of that incident without any loses of life on that day,” Gandy said. “As I’ve gotten older, the Fourth of July means so much more to me than I was younger.”

Those experiences over the years shaped their patriotic pride, which has led to the fundraising for the All Veterans Memorial Plaza out at Lake Wichita.

“They can go there and visit with their children, or grandchildren, or great-grandchildren right down the line because history is something we don’t want to lose,” Ruth said.

“As a teacher, I could see it as a place of learning for future generations,” Martie said.

A place of peace and remembrance of those who fought for our freedom.

If you want to help out the Veterans Memorial Plaza, find all details by clicking here!